REASONS CLERGY GIVE FOR THEIR SILENCE AT THE PULPIT ON NFP- Part 5
REASONS CLERGY GIVE FOR THEIR SILENCE AT THE PULPIT ON NFP - Part 5
"The recent clergy sex scandals make it impossible for me to talk about sex today. I have no credibility."
The false perception “You have no credibility” is very much the intent of some forces in the secular society, which want to muzzle the pulpits on matters of sexual morality. They don’t want us to teach about God’s plan for human sexuality. But there is no such thing as a moral vacuum. If good morality is not being taught, then other varieties of sexual ideology will be taught. We see it today in the push for acceptance of single sex marriages, in advocating “safe” sex for our young people, and in trivializing committed relationships.
The clergy sex scandals call for greater, not less, emphasis upon sexual morality. If there had been greater clarity on these matters from the pulpit in the past, then everyone would know the standards, which apply to everyone, and we would have been spared much grief. Our young people would not have been victimized. Dioceses would not be in danger of bankruptcy. Respect for the clergy would not be at an all time low. Bishops would not be faulted for their lack of oversight. Scandals erupt when there is no clarity of moral teaching coming from the pulpit. Our times call for more, not less, moral teaching from the pulpit.
Both the clergy and the laity have to clean up their act. The abuse of young people by 1-3% of the clergy is indeed a scandal. The abuse of sexuality by 80% of Catholic couples that are using birth control, or are sterilized, is also a great scandal. Before one group can throw stones at the other, they must first clean up their act. God is chastising his people because of violations against His sexual code. He chastises the clergy by not providing vocations to religious life and the priesthood. He chastises the laity by weak marriages, a 50% divorce rate, lots of unhappiness, and children who bear the brunt of their parent’s selfishness. So both the clergy and the laity need to hold the other accountable. We are not beating up on each other; rather, we are confronting the truth together.
The responsibility of the clergy and the religious is to hand on the deposit of the Faith as preached by the Apostles, which includes teaching moral truths. Their duty is to explain why God’s plan is so good for us, and so deserving of our efforts to comply with it. The responsibility of the laity is to integrate good moral principles into their lives and actions. Then they are to take these values out into the broader society, and help shape the culture with these Gospel values. This is part of the new evangelization.
Fr. Matthew Habiger OSB